Hockey from the Blind Side, Be careful What You Wish For …

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The chants after the first period of yesterday’s game against the St. Louis Blues by the faithful at the NVMC was a repeated, “Marty, Marty!”. Of course, this was in reference to Marty Brodeur, who the Blues had signed to a one year contract earlier in the week after Brian Elliott went down to an injury. With the New York Islanders having taken a 3-0 lead at the end of 20 minutes of play, it was pretty apparent that a goaltending change was going to be made by the visitors.

And so Marty came in relief for Jake Allen to start the second period and the Islanders proceed to blow that 3-0 lead. Not that Brodeur had to do much, as the Islanders had no shots on net through the first 8 minutes of the second period. In fact, it was as if they simply forgot there were still 2 more periods of hockey to play …

There are teams in the NHL you can get away with, perhaps, taking your foot off the gas at times. The St. Louis Blues are Not one of them, however. The Isles learned a very hard lesson yesterday. You simply have to keep your foot on the throat of a team like the Blues when you have them down. If you don’t play smart hockey and you stop doing all the little things, they will take advantage of you and take over the game.For some reason, I feared that this game would end up being a loss. Although the Islanders swept the home and home against the Senators and played quite well, I just had an uncomfortable feeling about this game. In fact, the 3-0 lead at the end of the first period was not all that comforting to me. As has been said by many people, the 3-0 lead in hockey is one of the worst things you can have, as you find yourself slowing down and easing up on your opponents.

Despite JT making it 4-3 on the power play late in the second period, it just seemed that the Islanders were discombobulated and rattled. The PK reverted back to playing sloppily and disorganized, and the Blues began to use their size effectively. If the Isles play their game, they can compete and beat any team in the NHL, but if they start making mistakes, they can and do quickly get themselves into serious trouble. The Blues were the wrong team to give life to for sure.

I don’t have many “blind observations” in this case. However, here are some things that come to mind:

  • It was good to see Michael Grabner get his first goal of the season. The play of the team and the offense in general has given the Isles the luxury of not having to rush Grabner back. If he wants to stay in the lineup, though, he will need to find the back of the net on a consistent basis.
  • Ryan Strome keeps putting up the points. Whoever thought this guys should have been sent down to Bridgeport after training camp should be admitting at this point that they were wrong. I was not one of those folks.
  • As said earlier, the PK let this team down. Three more goals were given up shorthanded. That was, realistically, the difference in this game. Successful kills could have changed the complexion of the game in the second period and given the Islanders a chance to get themselves mentally back in the contest.
  • It is great to see the Islanders honor the guys who did so much during the glory years of the team. Bobby Nystrom is a personal favorite of mine, and having gotten the chance to speak to him a few times in the past, I think he’s simply a great person who is willing to take the time to talk hockey with you, even a blind jabrone …
  • You’re not going to win every game in a season, and the Islanders, as improved and good as they are, still need to be spanked once in a while and learn how to lose as much as win. Lessons are, hopefully, learned collectively, and they just have to try not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

As Gary said in his audio post for today, this is just a “blip” on the screen. I have no doubts the coaching staff will go over the video and the guys will keep yesterday in mind as they go to Minnesota and visit St. Louis this week. It is a matter of putting this one behind them, but also learning from the experience of letting a team they had against the ropes get back into the fight. Good teams will fight back hard, and, I have no doubts that the guys in the locker room will remember that for the future.